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More workers caught up in fraud scandal at Havering Council

PUBLISHED: 09:30 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:12 02 October 2015

Havering Cabinet approved plans to save a further £13.9million from its budget over the next three years and expand five primary schools

Havering Cabinet approved plans to save a further £13.9million from its budget over the next three years and expand five primary schools

Archant

An internal fraud scandal at Havering Council shows no signs of letting up as eight more workers have been caught committing scams.

Since April, one worker has resigned, two have been disciplined and a further four placed on “management action plans” as a result of their behaviour.

The latest bombshell follows a story the Recorder published in June revealing the council had taken action against 34 of the 59 staff members investigated for fraud in 2014/15.

Of those, two were sacked, six resigned, nine were disciplined and one was prosecuted.

Seven new cases were brought to the council’s investigators in the three months from April to July – three by anonymous whistle-blowers, one by a member of the public and three more by internal departments.

They were added to the 14 cases left pending from the end of 2014/15. Of the 21 in total, two were transferred to the criminal fraud team, three were referred to HR, two were dropped and eight were proven.

Among those investigated were two money laundering cases, one for procurement of funds and five more for breach of the council code of conduct.

Havering Council did not confirm which investigations resulted in action being taken, but confirmed there was no evidence of money laundering found.

Cllr Damian White, deputy leader of the council, said: “Benefit fraud is a criminal offence which affects the public purse and is of significant detriment to hard-working taxpayers.

“We will vigorously pursue cases where we have evidence of people claiming benefits they’re not entitled to.”

The council is also currently investigating 70 cases of housing benefit fraud. Of those, 23 are for sub-letting, 15 for non-residency, four for false housing applications and two for blue-badge misuse.

Three properties were recovered between April and July after fraudulent claims were made. This has saved the authority £18,000 per home.

Another housing benefit overpayment to the tune of £26,946 is currently being processed and there is one prosecution pending regarding overpayments of £168,251.

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